I’m sitting in a YearlyKos panel called “Evolution and Integration of the Blogosphere.” The panelists are the blogosphere’s heavy hitters: Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers, now of OpenLeft, formerly of MyDD; Duncan Black of Atrios; Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and the John Edwards controversy; Ali Savino, co-founder and Program Director of the Center for Independent Media; and Amanda Terkel of Think Progress. Basically, all the folks we quasi-attacked in Dan Schulman’s piece entitled “Meet the New Bosses.”
Bowers, moderating the panel, begins by describing the entrenched nature of the top of the blogosphere: the most-viewed 50 progressive blogs have remained constant the last two years and hot new bloggers are just becoming diarists or contributors to these blogs. And, lest we here at MoJoBlog forget it, those 50 blogs get 95 percent of the blogosphere’s traffic.
Some panelists reject the idea of a blogosphere establishment, even in the face of Bowers’ facts, but Stoller makes the only legitimate point: the growth of the blogosphere may have occurred a few years back because the Bush Administration was so nasty and the mainstream press was so unwilling to expose the truth. There was a space for blogs. But now the press is critical of the administration and there is slightly less need for blogs. I’ll consider that. Savino, perhaps more willing to accept Bowers’ point than the rest, points out new bloggers’ best hope: local blogs and niche blogs.
In my mind, the facts are irrefutable: the blogosphere isn’t really the wild frontier with thousands of disparate voices that some people think it is. It has its own hierarchy, and even those who advocate opening up the voices in American democracy are content to perpetuate that hierarchy if they are at the top of it.
Man, I am never going to get on Townhouse.
Had a long section about diversity of the blogosphere that got deleted by our blog software. Basically, Bowers made a point that we made in our Politics 2.0 package — the blogosphere skews white, male, high-income, and well-educated. What can we do to bring in new voices?
Various responses from the panel. Savino points out that there is serious diversity on the blogs, just outside of the realm of politics. Arts bloggers, culture bloggers, gossip bloggers, and bloggers on urban and race issues are less monolithic demographically, and all can be tied to politics if the left-leaning political blogosphere reaches out to them. Stoller makes a point that many people are making here at YearlyKos: broadband penetration has seriously slowed in this country, and fewer and fewer people of color and people in rural communities are getting high-speed internet. If we can remedy that problem, we might address the blogosphere’s diversity issues.
Other topics that come up: reaching Spanish speakers, who are increasingly important politically; how campaigns treat bloggers vs. press; other stuff. When’s lunch?